in honor of kate and william

...I made cupcakes with homemade buttercream icing. De - lic - ious. I'm thinking that since my family doesn't need to be consuming a dozen cupcakes, we will surprise our next door neighbors tonight with a royal treat to celebrate the big day!
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5 a.m. royal wedding party

laying down for a nap as I post this ;-) fun memory made this morning - so thankful for girlfriends that are fun, even at 5 a.m.!

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going deeper

Keith and I had the opportunity to get away for a couple of days last week in order to attend the Gospel Coalition Conference in Chicago, IL. It was so refreshing - in many different ways. It's always fun to explore a city with my husband. I'm an experience junkie, so anything new (to me) is exciting :-) I need to pause and add a big THANK YOU to both my mom and Keith's mom for taking over my mama role while we were gone!

It was more than the new experiences that refreshed me though. Throughout the week, I kept sensing that God was calling me to go deeper. For those of you who are around me very much, you know I love God and His Word. My best days are days that begin with my Bible, journal and a cup of coffee. For awhile now, I have been using our church's study guide from the sermon as my main Bible study. And, it has been good. I have so enjoyed getting to reflect on the message throughout the week so that I have time to let God work in me and sometimes, out of me, those things in my life that the sermon addressed in helping to make me more Christ-like. But, I'm telling you, being around lots and lots of people who are passionately moved by God and His Word will mess you up! And that's what happened to me last week. But in a good way. There is just so much meat in God's Word. And, though I've been a Christian for almost 23 years, I still feel like I am being nourished by the most minimal amount of it.

I'm simply ready for more and just realized that though I'm very intimidated by the big commentaries and meaty theology books that my husband consumes on a regular basis to help give him insight as he studies the Bible, they are available to me too, and I don't want to shy away from being a student of God's Word anymore.

So, what's my game plan you might be asking (if you're still reading!)? Well, our church is kicking off a series on Galatians tomorrow - come join us if you live in Round Rock area and don't have a church home...Hill Country Bible Round Rock. With that in mind, I thought Galatians would be the perfect starting place in the Bible for me to experience a little bit of "going deeper." So far, I've read thru Galatians in the NIV translation and the HCSB translation. Very doable, even for a mama of four. The past couple of days, I have read through Martin Luther's Introduction to his thoughts on Galatians. OK - this has been wonderful. If you can get your hands on a copy of this, you must! His introduction really helps you to understand where Paul is coming from in writing this letter to the churches in Galatia. Now, my plan is to re-read Galatians again with Luther's introduction in mind.

I would really love for some of you ladies to join me in diving into Galatians...no formal Bible study, but wouldn't it be fun to have a community of ladies who are all soaking in a book of the Bible together? I'm thinking that we could all benefit and encourage each other as we grow in our knowledge of God together - who's with me? You know, women don't even like to go to the bathroom by themselves - it's always more fun in community :-) And, since I don't feel freedom right now in my schedule to lead an official Bible study, this is kind of my way around it!

I also wanted to give you the link to listen to the main sessions from the conference we attended. Here is the link: TGC 2011 Conference (definitely listen to Tim Keller and Matt Chandler if you have a chance!)

Post comments to let all of us know how you go about going deep into God's Word. I think that if you use Twitter at all, you can tweet @bariesue in your comments about studying Galatians and it will show up on the Twitter feed on the side of my blog so that we can all quickly see your thoughts/resources/books as we study God's Word together! Someone try it and let me know if it works or not ;-) If not, we'll figure something else out.

love ya'll and praying that all of us are moved by our love for God, especially tomorrow, as we celebrate our Risen Savior, who without Him, we would only know despair. I'm so thankful for joy that transcends my circumstances and grace-filled gospel that allows me to hold my head high even knowing I'm a sinner.


keith, aka "big bird"

Our staff and elders say thank you to all of our ministry volunteers every year by putting on a fun production and dinner...just in case you can't guess from the pictures, this year's theme was, "Church Planting on Sesame Street." Keith's parents say that Keith didn't talk until he was two and that all he could say was, "big bird," so it is pretty fitting that he play that character, right?

Keith, Nick and Douglas...

all of the staff and elders...

Needless to say, we laughed a lot that evening!
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our best time together

Our best time together is at night...when I'm usually exhausted and ready for a little "me" time. I am tempted so often to want to ignore his pleas for me to read him a book or lay down with him for a little while. It is so easy to give a quick kiss and leave the room, anxious to get in my p.j.'s and have some uninterrupted talk time with my man.
But, the other night, I was reminded how important this time is to connect with Kamden and to know what is going on in his little heart. I started to read him a chapter from a new book and somehow, we got to talking about God. I'm sad that I've already forgotten a lot of the conversation because it was all good, but what I do remember is that Kamden had some really good questions and insights about God and His grace. All of a sudden, though, he said as serious as he could possibly be, "Mom, when I find a girl and she loves God, I'm going to keep her and make chicken with her every night." I can't wait to remind him of this quote at his wedding rehearsal dinner...and you can bet I will ;-) In his defense, we had chicken for dinner and he had reminded me (for the 100th time) how much he liked chicken, so I can see how his thought process connected God and chicken that night...I know, big stretch, but I'm going with it.
Back to our best time together...though it's at night, I need to arrange my day in such a way that sets us up to successfully get that special time together. Since I know this is true about him, I need to allow room in my schedule during the day so that I am not so drop-dead tired when we put the kids to bed. I find that when our schedule is peaceful and not chaotic, then I'm more willing to lay there and discuss life with him. But, this is hard for me because I really thrive on trying to "fit it all in." How many of you ladies are with me on that one? We try to have playdates with all of our friends + grocery shop + clean house + run errands + cook meals + shuttle kids to all their activities + date our hubbies...all in a week. And we wonder why we're ready to collapse by 8:30 p.m. I admit....I have a strong desire to fit all this in my schedule - and if I'm honest, I sometimes attempt to fit all of this in a day, not a week. God's been working on me for the past two years though and I feel like I'm getting healthier everyday in this regard. I also have to factor in the equation that God has wired me to be pretty high-capacity in the amount of "busy" I can take in a day. Some of you are wired to "go-go" like me and some of you would be best with just one "activity" planned in your day. The main thing is that you ask the Lord to show you what your capacity is and what is best for your family in terms of how much you go before it starts to hurt your family life. I often find myself going to Titus 2:4 during my morning quiet times to help give me direction and clarity for the "best" for my day. This is what it says, "Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God."
When I slow down my "go-go" schedule, it helps me to love my hubby and my kids better because I have the necessary energy left at the end of the day to love on them and listen to them and I'm able to "be busy at home," spending time making our home a place of refuge for my family.


let the games begin

We officially kicked off our Spring season with the first t-ball and soccer game. Kade chose to play soccer this season. I have to admit that I could get into being a "soccer mom." It is just a fun sport to watch and Kade is pretty good, which makes it even more fun. Here he is playing goalie - happy to report that no goals were scored on his watch!
He gets to play with three of his close friends - Henry, Aiden and Jake (not pictured). I love seeing so many friends when we sit at the games. It was fun this time because Kade's Sunday school teacher was actually the coach for the other team and his 1st grade school teacher was there watching someone play from the other team also. Round Rock is really not even close to a small town, but it almost feels that way when you're sitting on the YMCA sports fields.
Keith and Nick are coaching t-ball together again this year. And, I don't mean to brag, but they're a good coaching team. It should get old, but it doesn't - I hope Kamden, Kale and Leif know how special it is to have two of their favorite men coaching together. Here is a pic of Kale with his two best buddies - Landon and Leif. They have all been friends since before they could even talk.

I'm a happy mom, too, because between the two games, I get to hang out with four of my friends...I get a mouth and ear work-out while the boys get a physical work-out :-) It's a win-win, right?


it's a big day

Opening season of the Texas Rangers!!

We haven't had cable since the end of last year's baseball season...trying to save money and go the old-fashioned, "bunny-ear" route. I'm wondering how long we'll make it though now that it's baseball season again ;-) Actually, as I'm working on this post, my hubby just found it on 103.3 - a Dallas radio station. He has the Spark app on his phone. This is for all of you die-hard Rangers fans who don't have cable either.

We actually got to see the Rangers play this past Wednesday when they played an exhibition game against their Triple-A team, our Round Rock Express. Let's just say I'm hoping the Rangers look better today at 3 than they did at that game. The Express beat them, 4-3, I think. We left at the end of the 7th inning because it all of a sudden became winter again in Round Rock. We almost made a fire when we got home to thaw out! But it was a fun date with a fun mate ;-) I'll sit in the cold anytime to watch baseball with my honey.